By CHARLES ODUM AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — A strong start by Charlie Morton provided a boost to an Atlanta rotation that has lost ace Max Fried for possibly a few weeks.
A quick start by the Braves’ bats also helped.
Matt Olson crushed a two-run homer in Atlanta’s four-run first inning and the Braves overwhelmed Nick Pivetta and the Boston Red Sox 9-3 on Tuesday night.
“I don’t know why, but we’ve done it a lot,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker of the big first inning. “It’s really good when you put heat on the competition to have to come from behind.”
The Braves (25-11) are 23-4 when scoring first.
Sean Murphy drove in four runs on three hits as the NL East-leading Braves handed the Red Sox their second straight loss following an eight-game winning streak. Murphy had a two-run single in the fourth and a run-scoring double in the eighth.
Ronald Acuña Jr. added two hits and scored three runs.
Morton (4-3) was the beneficiary of Atlanta’s 12-hit attack. Morton allowed two runs on five hits in six innings and improved to 8-1 in 14 career starts against Boston.
The Braves’ bats provided support for a pitching staff that took a major loss when Fried was placed on the 15-day injured list on Tuesday with a strained left forearm. Right-hander Kyle Wright, MLB’s only 20-game winner last season, is already on the IL with shoulder soreness.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a day I’ve ever worried about a circumstance getting us down,” Morton said. “… I feel like this group, ever since I’ve been here, has been able to rally around each other.”
Boston’s Justin Turner hit his third homer to lead off the sixth. Enrique Hernández had a run-scoring single off A.J. Minter in the eighth. Minter struck out pinch-hitter Bobby Dalbec with runners on first and second to end the inning.
ROCKY START FOR PIVETTA
Pivetta (2-3) allowed a season-high seven runs on eight hits and three walks in four innings. It was the most runs allowed in a game by the right-hander since also giving up seven at the New York Yankees on July 16, 2022.
Pivetta’s problems began when Atlanta’s first four hitters reached base. Acuña singled before Olson pulled the first pitch he saw from Pivetta 426 feet to the second level of seats in right field for his 11th homer.
After Pivetta walked Austin Riley and hit Murphy with a pitch, Ozzie Albies added a run-scoring single in the big first inning.
Boston’s Masataka Yoshida had his 16-game hitting streak, the majors’ longest active streak, snapped. Braves shortstop Orlando Arcia reached to his right to snag Yoshida’s grounder in the eighth and quickly flipped a strong throw to first to leave Yoshida’s hitless, and the left fielder grounded out to end the game.
Red Sox: LHP James Paxton will make his first start for Boston on Friday night against St. Louis. After missing the 2022 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, Paxton missed the start of this season with a strained hamstring. Paxton, 34, will be making his first major league appearance since April 6, 2021, with Seattle. He had a 6.23 ERA in six games with Triple-A Worcester.
Braves: C Travis d’Arnaud, who was activated from the injured list on Monday, was available off the bench. Snitker said he had no immediate plan for how d’Arnaud, who had been out with a concussion since April 9, would split time with Sean Murphy behind the plate and Marcell Ozuna as the designated hitter. Snitker said the only plan for d’Arnaud is “just that he’s back active and available.” C Chadwick Tromp was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett after Sunday’s game, a move which showed confidence in d’Arnaud’s ability to play defense.
Snitker announced after the game he would have a bullpen game as the replacement for Fried’s scheduled start as the two-game series concludes on Wednesday night. Snitker, who said the strong start by Morton made the bullpen game possible, plans to wait until Wednesday to announce the opener. RHP Brayan Bello (1-1, 5.71) is scheduled to start for the Red Sox.
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